France creates new policy in attempt to battle casual piracy

As governments try to cope with illegal file sharing and piracy concerns, a new anti-piracy body in France may throw users who are caught pirating copyrighted content off the Internet. 

The plan would work under a "three strikes and you're out" system, with Internet service providers sending two warnings before the Internet service cut.  An independent panel supervised by a court official will be responsible for creating a system to determine when and how often a warning is sent to a file sharer.

According to the chairman of the French retail chain store FNAC, Denis Olivennes, music sales at FNAC has declined due to Internet file sharing.  Olivennes believes large monetary fines and prison sentences -- current French penalties for copyright infringement -- are "totally disproportionate."  He believes a ban on Internet is a more reasonable punishment, especially for the young people in the country.  The Syndicat National de l'Edition Phonographique (SNEP), the French equivalent of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), claims music sales have plummeted 40 percent over a four-year period starting in 2002.

The deal was described as a "decisive moment for the future of a civilized Internet," according to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.  "We run the risk of witnessing a genuine destruction of culture," he added.

Even though the movie and music industries applauded the idea, other politicians and consumer groups believe the initiative could end up being too restrictive.  The initiative is "very tough, potentially destructive of freedom, anti-economic and against digital history," the UFC Que Choisir consumer group announced in a statement.

As pressure mounts by official music and movie studios trying to combat piracy, governments have been weary to create initiatives to try and prevent piracy by regular users.  The French idea is better suited to combat piracy on a small scale on a user-to-user basis, rather than organized piracy rings.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone
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